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Preparing the Human Workforce for the Digital Economy

With the further prevalence and integration of technology throughout the Digital Enterprise – such as Big Data Analytics, Cloud and Digital Manufacturing – it is impossible to overstate its impact on human capital. As companies transition to deliver higher value, rooted in actionable insights and sensor-laden products and processes, the enterprise must also provide higher value to employees. Employees will also be asked to think and operate differently.

But different is better, as it will create a more holistic and empowered work environment. Employees will be empowered to make decisions as challenges arise. Backed by data insights and real-time connectivity, solutions will be implemented quickly without slowing down productivity. Ultimately, we’ll wield technology to create transformative points across our processes and business.

However, this will also mean that businesses need to attract and train workers that can thrive in a data-centric environment where we’ll work with machines. That’s why the human element of the Digital Enterprise must be cultivated as carefully and developed with as much thought as the technology employees will be running.

"We are working in the digital age. Our reality is a near-instant global exchange of information between connected devices."

Audrey McGuckin
Vice President, Talent Management

New Ways to Work in the Digital Economy

The way people interact outside of the workforce has changed dramatically. And this culture of communication will naturally emerge inside the workplace. People now prefer to send text messages instead of making a telephone call. “Liking” something is the new way of affirming involvement, support or understanding. Hashtags are so common that there’s a hand symbol for it. People are speaking a new language and businesses need to make sure they keep up with the lingo.

Naturally, people entering the workforce with social communication skills will expect to use them in the workplace, too. Therefore, communication platforms must take advantage of social sharing habits that allows people to collaborate using familiar methods they’re already using with friends and family.

“We are working in the digital age. Our reality is a near-instant global exchange of information between connected devices, said Audrey McGuckin, Jabil’s Vice President of Talent Management. “New technologies, data analytics and social networks shape how we communicate, manage, track, assess and collaborate. Even newer technologies and innovations are just around the corner with the potential to disrupt current business practices.”

Social communications will find its way onto the factory floor, also, to improve productivity, data, tracking and actionable decision making. By shifting employee collaboration into the digital realm, everyone can tap into best practices optimized in real-time through social channels.

Building a Broader Workforce

Today, the core U.S. workforce includes three generations: baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), Gen X-ers (between 1965 and 1984) and Millennials / Gen Y-ers (between 1985 and 2000). On the front and back-end are older generations, as well as the up and coming “Generation Z” (born after 2000). Millennials will soon be dominating the workplace and a 2015 study by Deloitte highlighted their changing perceptions of leadership: “Business should focus on people and purpose, not just products and profits.”

As four or even five generations begin to work side-by-side, employers must encourage collaboration among this diverse population in a way that is respectful to all. For example, each generation has something to offer, meaning that mixed-age partnerships can be much more impactful than more homogeneous teams.

By creating a company culture that acknowledges and invests in generational differences, our work places will be more attractive to a much wider labor pool. And that means that we’ll mitigate the impact of looming labor scarcities as parts of the world’s population ages.

How is your manufacturing partner managing human capital in the digital economy? Is it preparing its workforce to tackle the challenges that you can scarcely yet imagine?










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